Nova Scotia

Volunteer N.S. firefighters sued for failure to stop house fire

An insurance company that paid out the claim of a Nova Scotia couple after a devastating fire is suing two volunteer fire departments, claiming the damage could have been avoided.

An insurance company that paid out the claim of a Nova Scotia couple after a devastating fire is suing two volunteer fire departments, claiming the damage could have been avoided.

The lawsuit by Aviva is against the North Sydney and Frenchvale volunteer departments.

The fire departments were called to a home in North Sydney in July 2007. They put out a blaze in a back bedroom, but it reappeared a few hours later and destroyed the rest of the house.

Larry and Diane Stonehouse spent the next nine months in hotels. They were compensated by their insurance company, and Diane estimates the total cost to the company was more than $400,000.

Aviva is suing for damages and court costs.

The Stonehouses are named in the lawsuit because their name is on the policy.

"We didn't know anything about it," Diane told CBC News Wednesday. "The firemen are friends, neighbours, customers of my husband, who has a small-engine repair business."

A statement of claim, filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax, says the fire departments didn't have specialized equipment designed to detect heat and flame, or turn to somebody that did.

If they had, the suit claims, the second wave of flames would have been detected and extinguished completely.

The volunteer fire departments wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, saying the case is now before the courts.

Diane Stonehouse hopes there are no bad feelings.

"If my new house burns down, you want them to come," she said. "I'm hoping that the firemen will know that we're not doing this to them. This is not our decision."

The allegations have not been proven in court.

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